Authors: George Magnum
Tags: #General, #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Horror
(book #1 in the Zombie Diaries)
Copyright © 2011 by George Magnum
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Commander Jacob Peterson awoke to the shrill sound of his emergency beeper. He opened his eyes, disoriented, trying to remember where he was. He surveyed the small room and saw a TV screen flickering static, and saw blinds swaying from a humming air conditioner. He then looked over and was surprised to see a petite, platinum blonde woman, early twenties, sleeping beside him, nude on top of the sheets. Their bodies were entangled with one another, at peace.
Not anymore. The beeping wouldn’t stop, and Peterson reached over, untangled himself, and grabbed it. He knew what the beeping meant, but he checked anyway, as if just maybe, this one time, he would catch a break.
No such luck. The blinking numbers on the beeper were all too familiar--another emergency--another mission. Peterson took one look back at the sleeping beauty, her curves, her soft skin. Absorbing her with his eyes, he wished he could get back into bed with her. But the beeping meant serious business.
He dressed quickly, his body muscular, scarred with small circular indentations—bullet wounds. He left quietly, not waking her.
Tossing a black satchel over his shoulder, Peterson stepped out from the ranch suburban home. The house was picturesque, as was the entire neighborhood. Well-groomed yards, blue skies and room to breathe.
I would settle down her
, Peterson thought,
if I had a different life.
He walked to his Ford pickup, but then stopped abruptly. Looking up and down the block, he detected an eerie silence. In the middle of the road, a red tricycle was on its side, its front wheel spinning slowly in the wind. Peterson looked up at the trees. Not even the birds were chirping.
He shook it off. Too many years of combat had begun to haunt him, stirring odd sensations from time to time. Lately it felt as if he were watching himself in the third person, as if his life was not his. And then, as quickly as it came, it passed. He’d heard that feelings of surrealism were a sign of combat fatigue.
That made sense. He had been at war his entire life—if not with special operations, then with himself, his childhood, his father. It was an uphill fight. Sooner or later, even the strongest men can cave—but Peterson refused to accept this.
Just keep looking forward
, he thought,
and everything will be okay.
As he wound through the community’s newly-paved roads, the low rumble of his pickup’s engine disrupting the quiet of the neighborhood, he reached into his satchel and felt through its items: a 9mm pistol; clips of ammunition; a federal I.D. card, and finally, what he was searching for: his government-issued, secure cellphone.
Peterson flipped it open, and as he did, it sped dial automatically.
No answer, then static. He shot the phone an odd look. It was an important tool of his trade and had always been reliable.
Peterson suddenly looked up, back to the road, and slammed on his brakes.
Before him, shattered glass and skid marks tore a trail over a front yard, leading to a silver Honda minivan, turned upside down. Dark smoke rose from its belly. Ten feet from the van, a child lay flat on her back. Motionless, her pink dress was matted with blood.
Peterson stared at the wreckage before him.
No people. No sounds. No commotion.
Struggling through his initial shock and battle fog, he slid out of his car and bee-lined to the little girl.
A layer of blood stuck to the girl’s body and matted hair. Her face was sickly-pale, her lips cracked, and her eyes were open—staring into the abyss. For Peterson, it was an all-too familiar sight. He had seen it in the faces of a hundred comrades, and a hundred enemies. It was the face of death. Whatever happened, he had arrived too late for this little girl.
If only out of respect, he reached down and felt for a pulse. As expected, her flesh was cold and already hardening. No pulse. This girl was long dead.
Peterson immediately turned his attention to the van. Staring back at him from the driver seat were the wide eyes of a middle-aged woman. She was upside down, with the top of her head pressing against the ceiling. Her eyes blinked rapidly, and it seemed that she was trying to gain some sense of her surroundings, but unable to.
Peterson leaned down beside the smashed window.
“Can you hear me?” he asked gently, although he did not expect the woman to respond clearly. He recognized the signs of a concussion and knew too-well the disorientation which accompanied it.
“Yes,” she responded, in a dazed whisper.
“What is your name?” he asked in a soothing voice.
“Elizabeth” she responded, “my name is Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth, my name is Jacob Peterson. You’ve been in a car accident. Try not to move. I’m going to help you.”
Words trembled from the woman’s lips, “My little girl. Sandra.”
Peterson looked over his shoulder at the little girl, and hoped the woman hadn’t seen her.
“She’s okay, miss.”
He struggled to open the car door, but it caught on the cement, jammed under the van’s pressure. He needed the jaws-of-life to get her free; he knows it was fruitless wish.
“I’ll get you out. Just hold on” he said, speaking more to himself, as he hurried to his vehicle.
Peterson rummaged as quickly as he could through his backseat, finally finding a crowbar. He then hurried back to the van, ready to try again—but as he neared it, he suddenly stopped in his tracks, frozen in shock.
Before him, the little girl—the one he
was dead—was standing. Alive. Facing her mother, just a foot away.
, Peterson thought.
That girl was dead.
The mother’s face lit up with a look of relief.
“Sandra baby, Mommy’s here,” the mother said in an encouraging tone, her voice coarse and weak.
In a strangely mechanical manner, the mangled child, her back still to Peterson, walked towards her mother. Peterson watched, too shocked, for the first time in his life, to know how to react.
The little girl crouched down, getting close to her mother.
That was when Peterson saw the mother’s face contort from joy to fear.
“Baby?” came the mother’s suddenly terrified voice.
Before Peterson could react, the child leaned in, as if to give her mother a kiss, but at the last second, leaned over and instead bit a chunk of flesh out of her mother’s.
She chewed and swallowed. . .and then bit down again .
The mother screamed with a scream that would raise the hairs on the world’s toughest men. Peterson was used to sounds of agony, sounds of death, but in all his years, he had never heard a sound like this. He felt his skin grow cold.
The little girl leaned in again, as if to bite her again, and this time, Peterson burst into action. He ran towards them, and upon hearing him approach, the child suddenly turned, revealing her face. It was a sick pastel, and her eyes, sunken low into their sockets, were filled with madness. She stared at him like a rabid animal and she chewed and swallowed the remaining flesh in her mouth.
Peterson stopped in his tracks. He didn’t back away, even though he wanted to. Two decades of elite military training and countless combat missions had hard-wired his mind to face and defeat any threat.
Yet, now, he was frozen and didn’t know how to react. He stood there, facing her, not sure what to do—not comprehending how any of this could be possible. Was he dreaming?
Suddenly, there was the rev of an engine and the sound of screeching brakes, as a police car pulled up, skidding to a halt.
Two police officers leapt out. The lead cop, a tall, brawny guy, wielded a 12-gauge shotgun, and the other, a young rookie, aimed his 9mm
pistol at Peterson.
“Get down!” the lead cop shouted at Peterson.
Peterson recognized the look in the cop’s eyes: panic. He knew that if he didn’t move, he’d get shot.
He dove to the ground, and as he did, the police opened fire.
Rounds of bullets from the 12-gauge shotgun and 9 mm pistol ripped into the child and her mother.
The 12-gauge hits the little girl like a cannonball and ripped a baseball- sized hole through the back of her skull, and blew her face off.
The cops kept firing, unloading every round of ammunition they had, until their weapons stopped with an empty click.
Peterson looked over and saw that, over the smoking barrel of their guns, the little girl and her mother had been blown into bits of pulp and tissue. The cops turned their attention to Peterson.
“Are you okay?” asked the lead cop.
“Okay?” Peterson stumbled.
The rookie was suspicious. “Have you been bitten?”
“Bitten? Bitten by what?”
The world was becoming surreal again to Peterson, and he fought for his bearings. It was uncommon for Peterson to have this many episodes in one day, or even one month.
The cops looked at each other, communicating without words.
“I don’t understand,” Peterson said.
“What did you see?” the lead cop asked.
Peterson turned and looked at the remains of the girl and her mother.
“I saw a car accident. I saw that girl. She was dead or, at least I thought so. She got up. She bit her mother’s face…” Peterson could hardly believe his own words.
The second cop demanded an answer: “Have you been bitten?”
“By the girl?”
“By any of them?” the cop snapped.
The lead, brawny officer was more cool-headed, and took control.
“What you witnessed is not an isolated event. We’ve already seen about one hundred of them, some in the next county over, a large group just half a mile from here…and now these two.”
He pointed at the girl and her mother, and his voice changed into a scared, slow drawl, “Something is spreading. Fast.”
Peterson saw that the rookie was unsettled, still anxious for an answer to his question. Their eyes met, and Peterson’s thoughts wandered.
She was mortally wounded. She got up. She was biting her mother. It’s not isolated.
Suddenly, the rookie’s question made horrifying sense.
“No,” Peterson answered, “I have not been bitten.”
The rookie’s face relaxed, as did his posture.
He became forthcoming. “It’s all over the news. It’s happening everywhere. Nobody can make any damn sense of it,” he said, as he holstered his pistol.
The lead cop stepped in, “Get to a safe place, sir, and don’t waste any time.”
A crackling voice came from inside the patrol car’s two-way radio, and w
ithout looking back the cops jumped into the car. The lead cop yelled, “Board yourself up too,” and the patrol car skidded away.